Vt. man hit by car dies after hospital release

By JOHN CURRAN, The Associated Press
Posted July 11, 2011, at 10 p.m.

MONTPELIER, Vt. — A 20-year-old pedestrian in a wheelchair was hit by a car and later died of his injuries at home hours after being treated and released from the hospital, officials said Monday.

Zachary “Mike” Stamatis was taken to Fletcher Allen Health Care on Saturday night after a car struck his wheelchair at a Burlington crosswalk with traffic signals, police said. The driver of the car was following the rules of the road and wasn’t charged, authorities said.

Stamatis was treated and released from the hospital, according to Mike Noble, spokesman for the Burlington hospital. Noble wouldn’t discuss the treatment or Stamatis’ condition, citing health privacy laws.

At 10 a.m. Sunday, Stamatis — who lived with a foster family in Burlington — was found dead in his bed by a female relative, Deputy Police Chief Andi Higbee said.

The state’s deputy chief medical examiner determined that Stamatis died of a brain injury and skull fracture due to blunt impact from head trauma sustained in the accident, according to Robert Stirewalt, a spokesman for the state Department of Health.

The manner of death was listed as “accident” on the death certificate.

“Certainly, this is a tragedy for the family, and our thoughts are with them,” Noble said.

He said hospital officials would investigate Stamatis’ treatment.

“We’re going to look into this. Anytime you have an unexpected outcome, we would do an internal quality analysis review to see what were the steps taken in the case, was that as it should be, was there something different we could do,” Noble said.

According to a 2010 profile in the Burlington Free Press, Stamatis was born with spina bifida and lived in a succession of foster homes until he was taken in last year by foster parents John and Mary Provost, in Burlington.

They weren’t available to talk Monday, according to a man who answered the telephone at their home Monday afternoon.

Stamatis played sled hockey and “power soccer” — soccer in a wheelchair — with the Northeast Disabled Athletic Association.

“He was plucky, very friendly, always had a sly sense of humor,” said Patrick Standen of Burlington, the group’s president, who has known Stamatis for three years. “He was a great kid. It’s a sad tragedy that this all unfolded the way it did.”

The driver of the car that hit Stamatis was identified as 48-year-old Jeffrey Shedd of Shelburne. His phone number was out of service Monday.

Neither speed nor alcohol was believed to be a factor, Higbee said.

http://bangordailynews.com/2011/07/11/news/nation/vt-man-hit-by-car-dies-after-hospital-release/ printed on November 27, 2014